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Theory: How The Punisher Factors into ‘Daredevil: Born Again’

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Marvel Studios is hard at work developing its street-level heroes, which began with shows like Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel. Daredevil: Born Again is the latest project from this microcosm filming and it sounds like it’s going to be a game-changer for our street-level heroes and the cities they protect. In one of our “What I Heard” posts from earlier this week, Alex Perez breaks down Kingpin’s rise to power (which begins in the upcoming Echo), creating some major problems for Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and his friends. Of those friends, Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle a.k.a. The Punisher, who is returning in Daredevil: Born Again.

While Punisher is the only character besides Daredevil and Kingpin that has been reported by trades or confirmed by Marvel Studios itself, I don’t believe he’ll be the only one returning from the Defender-verse, which made its transition from Netflix to Disney+ last year. That being said, Vincent D’Onofrio, in an interview with Newsweek, stated that The Punisher is a huge part of Daredevil: Born Again. So how exactly does Frank Castle factor into the newest outing from the man without fear? We have some thoughts, which all begin with Matt Murdock’s appearance in Echo.

A search for Frank Castle

Since the return of Charlie Cox as Matt in Spider-Man: No Way Home, it seems like Marvel Studios is using him and his appearances as the lynchpin to the street-level universe. Matt Murdock’s role in Echo may be nothing more than a cameo or one-off episode, however, his appearance will seemingly have huge ramifications for the overarching story of the street-level MCU. Where originally it was rumored that Matt was looking for Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), the latest rumor indicates that he is now looking for Frank Castle.

Why exactly is he looking for Castle, remains to be seen, but it seems like Daredevil could be looking to build his own army for a pending turf war with Kingpin. According to Alex Perez, Fisk is campaigning for mayor of New York City, however, achieving this role is small potatoes to his true goal. Fisk’s aim is to rid the city of heroes by outlawing them and labeling them vigilantes to the general public.

The Punisher (Netflix)
Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal). The Punisher (Netflix).

Ridding the city of its heroes and placing himself in a place of power opens up the door for easier corruption and control at his hands. It’s a smart move, painting a target on their backs, pitting the people against heroes such as Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Daredevil, and yes even The Punisher. So it makes logical sense that Matt would be assembling his own team to go against Kingpin. The Defenders 2.0.

If I was Murdock, I’d want nothing more than the best on my team and frankly, The Punisher is one of the best when it comes to winning wars. He’d be the number one recruit for the new Defenders, however, there may be a twist to The Punisher’s loyalties when we meet him once again in Daredevil: Born Again.

The Punisher may be working for Kingpin in Daredevil: Born Again

In the Dark Reign event, which is one of the current inspirations for the street-level world of MCU, Frank Castle is integral to the plan of bringing down Norman Osborn. Osborn’s story in that run is certainly the inspiration for Kingpin throughout Echo, Daredevil: Born Again, and eventually Spider-Man 4.

Within the comic book event, Frank attempts to kill Osborn, although he fails. This assassination attempt is used to fuel Osborn’s scheme of removing heroes from NYC, making Punisher the poster child for the vigilantes. Norman, with the help of his hired help Sentry and The Hood, sets off to have Castle killed, which he succeeds at.

With Kingpin filling the spot of Osborn, and the introductions of Sentry and The Hood next year in Thunderbolts and Ironheart respectively, all the makings are there for a pretty straight adaptation of Dark Reign. But come on, when does Marvel Studio ever do a 1:1 adaptation of their comic books? Instead, it seems likely that Punisher may be working for Fisk when DD: BA opens up.

Frank Castle has always been a complicated character, whose loyalty he doesn’t give easily. However, his mission in life is more aligned with punishing those who deserve it, with a moral compass that doesn’t always point north. He’s already come into conflict with Daredevil in season 2 of the Netflix run because their methods didn’t align. His appearance in DD: BA could harken back to his first appearance in comic history, The Amazing Spider-Man #129. 

The Punisher in The Amazing Spider-Man #129
Cover of the Amazing Spider-Man #129 (Marvel),

In TASM #129, Frank is hired to kill “a villain” by Jackal, who sends the vigilante after Spider-Man. The two come into conflict a few times before Spider-Man can convince Castle of the true bad guy, which sets The Punisher off on a journey of revenge against the Jackal. I think it’s incredibly likely that these two storylines will be combined in DD: BA, playing out slowly throughout the 18 episodes.

Imagine Matt searching for Frank, only to find out that he’s working for the enemy, pitting the two against each other once again. With time, Daredevil can get through to him, explaining the manipulation and villainy Kingpin is using to gain a powerful fist over NYC, making life difficult for all the heroes. Frank, being stubborn to a fault, may resist this at first, but eventually could come around and decides to take out Kingpin once and for all. This could lead him into his more comic-accurate storyline with Dark Reign and once again in league with Daredevil and the rest of the Defenders.

Marvel’s Daredevil: Born Again is expected to arrive on Disney+ in 2024. But what do you think? How do you think The Punisher will be re-introduced into the wider MCU? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter or in the Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out Alex Perez’s What I Heard about Kingpin’s rise to power.

What I Heard: Kingpin’s Rise to Power

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Brian Kitson

Working hard to bring you the latest news and thoughtful analysis of all things nerdy!

Brian Kitson has 367 posts and counting. See all posts by Brian Kitson